Archive for the ‘Consultation’ Category

LTQ Mobile Strategy drafted

Friday, May 28th, 2010

As part of our work in the Learning Innovation Office we are also tasked to coordinate Learning and Teaching activities and where applicable, generate roadmaps for development – both existing and new areas, to enhance our offerings to students.

For OU staff only, here are the current drafts of the LTQ Mobile Strategy Statements and corresponding Action Plan that our PVC Denise Kirkpatrick is currently reviewing. More information to follow from the other LTQ units… comments and amendments welcome.



Student ratings of course website features for mobile access

Friday, September 11th, 2009

I will be updating a report on this from the earlier interim findings now we have had 196 complete survey responses (28 partial) from the self-selecting student users of StudentHome mobile.

In the meantime, I thought the ratings might be of interest to colleagues:


The corresponding question was:
Please rate the following as to their importance to you on the Mobile VLE (course websites): [5-point rating, 5=highest]

  • Assessment scores (summary)
  • Now/next view of course planner
  • Calendar
  • Tasks to complete
  • Learning Objectives
  • Glossaries/terminology
  • Downloadable resources (MP3s etc.)
  • Messages/updates
  • Search

Update on Exploration, communication and staff development

Friday, July 31st, 2009

The final update from this current round:

In addition to cross-unit discussions about the above projects and sub-projects – some for technical integration, some for knowledge-sharing as part of the Mobile Technologies Special Interest Group (SIG) or the eLearning Community programme of events from Sept 09, there are many other activities underway:

Emulators – to aid those staff who don’t have access to devices themselves for exploration, the Digilab ‘mobile zone’ equipment has been updated, and the Mac and PC desktops have also been supplemented with device/browser emulators or simulators for newer devices including Apple iPhone/iPod Touch, Google Android, Palm Pre, in addition to older Microsoft Windows Mobile 6, Sun Java Mobile and the OperaMini demos [also available online via ]

Knowledge-sharing sessions – an ongoing programme of activities include mobile themes, presentations and seminars. These include the eLearning Community and the Mobile Technologies SIG as well as IET Technology coffee mornings and other Faculty and Programme-initiated seminars and symposia. There is also interest in improving the online presence available to staff interested in Mobile Learning, but until this is specified and agreed further, a co-created list of teaching and learning projects is also available for updating.

Staff briefings – most recently there are two briefings that provide an update and overview of mobile learner support coordination of teaching and learning activities and LIO projects, given as part of the above knowledge-sharing sessions: IET and eLC.
Ongoing briefings are also being conducted as part of the Digilab facilities, where ‘Digibytes’ and ‘Digiquests’ can be followed, by consultation with the staff:

Cross-faculty consultation – commencing September 2009, there will be broader consultation via a group established by LIO, complemented by further interaction with course managers and teaching and learning staff in each unit. Building on this will be a series of activities to better coordinate information on any ongoing teaching and learning projects that are relevant to mobile learner support. While the main thrust of activity will be to improve communication and networking, the activities will also be an opportunity to feed back new areas of innovative practice and models for e-learning (and m-learning) for wider dissemination and to LIO. Evaluating new MobileVLE designs and small-scale student trial coordination is also expected to be part of the ongoing work in this area.

IET EPD and forward planning – although there was no Educational and Professional development programme for mobile learning this year, IET have released Teaching & Learning guide on Mobile Learning by Agnes Kukulska-Hulme and Anna Page.
The intention for 2009/2010 currently is to build on the consultation outlined above by working with course teams not only to explore which elements of current provision are most appropriate to mobile learning, but also to establish ‘microchunked’ course materials and activities lending themselves best to mobile learning. There is also currently interest in further investigating mobile usability with an educational focus, the facilities within the Jennie Lee Labs being ideal for conducting focus group investigations and establishing mobile learning journals among other activities.

Updates – projects and course development

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

Mobile VLE – a student survey is currently being reviewed by our SRPP team, and will hopefully be targetted initially at exisiting users of StudentHome mobile and our mobile learners to help shape the priorities for design work from summer onwards. The plan then is to get wider feedback on sample designs, possibly with student usability trials. Development work is already underway to ensure that VLE users on devices can interact better with text-based tools.

eBooks – after an initial technical review (report available soon), the formats selected for further development of transformational code are Mobipocket and ePub open eBook format, which provide for best portability across format, best extensibility for a variety of uses and are the most closely based on standards.

Audio eAssessment – initial work by the L120 Intermediate French team with our contractors Learnosity has yielded an effective voice response system for students to engage with speaking and listening activities using their phones. Mobile phone review of a structured conversation is also possible, currently beyond the capabilities of equivalent DVD-ROM approaches and further work will be undertaken to ensure that a separate student review web interface can be accessed on devices. Initial work for an iPhone, then Google Phone app is expected to follow. Further discussions will then take place on the wider coordination of ‘Audiovisual eAssessment’ activities.

Mobile course learning design and staff development – plans are also underway to initiate cross-faculty work in considering what elements of course delivery are most suitable for mobile learners, and how much content can be specifically tailored in a small number of pilot courses to be nominated by faculty members of the Learning Innovation Steering Group. Further work is also expected in the Education and Professional Development area in the next academic year, which I will update on when confirmed.

Initial stakeholder meeting (Part 2)

Friday, March 27th, 2009

During our discussions, one group outlined a first-pass preference for mobile views of content, which I have amended in light of further discussion, including a sample wireframe here (you can click to enlarge).

wireframe.png The idea to provide a message ‘dashboard’ plus a ‘to do list’ is central here, allowing users to tick off actions which are hidden on next refresh (but accessible if need be). Searching through content is important, and we should take advantage of accessibility improvements for smaller size screens.
I’ve included some sample resource links and we should make use of summaries of learning objectives and glossaries for a quick overview of requirements and terminology.

This has led to further exploration for proof-of-concept work to inform the other ‘resource package’ strand of the Mobile VLE developments. Currently I’m in the process of initiating research and development into transforming our structured content into other (eBook) formats and exporting our quiz content to mobile applications through the means of web services.

For internal staff, a recording of the event can be viewed by first going to the Elluminate workspace and then accessing the playback file in the MTech SIG area.

Initial stakeholder meeting (Part 1)

Friday, March 27th, 2009

For now, a short note outlining the initial stakeholder meeting where we considered how the current VLE can and is being ‘consumed’ by our mobile learners. In demonstrating via a number of emulators it’s clear that while the new zooming browser technologies allow access to full size website content, optimisation is still necessary for other devices. You may be interested to view some of the screenshots of our content captured in the activity prompt sheet.

pythonlandscape.png operaminilandscape.jpg

As the iPod Touch/iPhone devices provide fairly high resolution rendering of full size web content so you can target your area of interest, they are still really the only ‘bridging’ technology between small and larger scale (aside from the more bespoke Nokia Internet Tablets and Pocket surfer-types). Even other zooming capabilities provided by Opera Mini, Google Android and Mobile IE give you a more limited view – and make use of ‘magnifying’ windows to target content better.

Survey: Information use on the move

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

Colleagues at the OU may already have seen this, but in the interests of covering all bases, you may be interested in the following from Keren Mills as part of her work currently based in Cambridge:

Win £30 in Amazon vouchers when you tell us how you use information on the move

I would like to invite you to take part in a survey intended to establish how the majority of Open University students and staff access, or would like to access, information away from your desk or laptop. The survey questions are primarily about how you use your mobile phone, smartphone or PDA to look up, use or interact with information.

I am a full time member of staff at the Open University, but this research is being undertaken in partnership with Cambridge University as part of the Arcadia project. Staff and students at Cambridge University will be receiving the same survey. For more information about the project, please click on the link provided at the end of the survey.

All answers will be completely anonymous. If you choose to provide your email address to enter the prize draw, or if you wish to contribute further to the project, we will not associate it with your responses or retain it after the end of the project. The aggregated survey results, however, will be made publicly available and may be used to inform development of services for students and staff.

Click here to take the survey:

It should take 10 to 15 minutes to complete, and will be available until 27 March 2009.

Mobile VLE stakeholder consultation 19th March 2009

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

Copying the message sent out to Strategy-Mlearn-List mail list earlier:

I have been in consultation with a number of smaller groups of interested parties, but would now appreciate if you are able to attend, or send representatives to a Mobile VLE stakeholder meeting on 19th March 2009, 1-3PM, Library Presentation Room. Coffee and cake provided.

This meeting would be most appropriate for colleagues involved in usability and learning design for courses, those implementing course sites and colleagues who receive regular feedback from students as to online course provision.

We will be working in conjunction with the Integrated Online Experience project looking at design and usability of the VLE. We need to have a vision on what appropriate VLE services should be highlighted (and most easily accessible) to users browsing with mobile technologies, and ideally how these can be structured, most likely around the study planner.

Looking to the future we also need to improve on interactions, not just browsing capabilities, and an additional aim will be to ensure that OU (formative) learning material can be packaged for use while mobile, even with intermittent connectivity.

Please confirm whether you can attend via the Learning-Innovation mailbox by Friday 6th March.

Mobile VLE going ahead

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

At the Learning Innovation Steering Group yesterday, an outline for the Mobile VLE was given, and I will be approaching stakeholders soon to get this on a firmer footing.

The discussions I’ve had so far certainly confirm that we should be doing more than just providing another channel for our content – we really need to be looking at the interactivity (which on multiple – and currently unsupported – browsers is challenging). Mobile optimised sites are best when they’re not just reformatting content, but offering appropriate services quickly.

The recent VLE redesign and the work of the Integrated Online Experience project have already improved the mobile internet browsing experience of the VLE and will be key to further improvements.

Currently I can see 2 phases of development (in outline):

  • Making the study planner the core optimised content block, providing tools (on the sidebar) as footer navigation items. Ensuring that the text entry and HTML editors work at a basic level across mobile browsers;
  • Looking to package some of the more static content for review when users have no connection (which of course still happens while mobile) and improve/export some of the quiz functionality for formative self-assessment.

Colleagues are welcome to comment at this early stage in shaping the scope of the project and I will be asking nominees and other mobile technology community members to get involved via the mail lists in due course.

We’re also going to have to look at the layout of the sign-in process as from what I’ve seen so far you can’t even get past this using Google Android and some other phone web browsers…

Mobile Learning in the OU

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

Before I become a full-time member of the VLE Programme next year, taking on more responsibilities, I wanted to make sure I had discussed and established a ‘position paper’ for future mobile learner support work. This will be available at: and I will return to this topic in January, and hope colleagues will be able to assist in further defining the scope and direction of the work.

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